Turkey has blocked Stockholm’s accession to the US-led bloc, accusing the country of harboring Kurdish terrorists
The Swedish Riksdag passed a new anti-terror law on Wednesday that criminalizes membership in terrorist organizations. The move is seen as the latest attempt to address concerns from Turkey, which has blocked the Nordic nation’s bid for NATO membership.
The legislation is due to come into effect on June 1 and will give authorities more power to detain and prosecute people suspected of supporting or being part of recognized terrorist groups.
Those found guilty of participating in terrorist activities or collaborating with terrorists can face up to four years in prison and up to eight years if the crimes are deemed particularly serious. Among the crimes can be mentioned the supply of weapons, ammunition and explosive materials to such groups, providing or renting them land and property, as well as traveling abroad with the intention of joining such organizations.
The introduction of the new law comes at the same time as Sweden awaits full ratification of its application for membership in NATO. Stockholm submitted its bid last May along with neighboring Finland, both citing the perceived threat from Russia during the military operation in Ukraine.
To be accepted into the bloc, however, the bid must be supported and ratified by all current member states. In the cases of Sweden and Finland, the process was blocked by Hungary and Turkey. Ankara accused the two countries of supporting the Kurds “terrorist groups” such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and demanded that they both publicly condemn these organizations and kick them out of their countries.
Finland’s bid was eventually ratified by both Ankara and Budapest in late March after Helsinki adopted stricter anti-terror laws. The country officially became NATO’s 31st member last month.
Sweden’s membership, on the other hand, has remained in limbo. Ankara insists Stockholm has not done enough to address its grievances, while Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has accused the Swedish government of “spreads obvious lies” about his country.